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Andrew S. Kim, MD
Life-Threatening Anaphylaxis: Would You Know the Symptoms?
Allergy & Asthma Center Of Fairfax
. http://www.allergyasthmadoctors.com/

Life-Threatening Anaphylaxis: Would You Know the Symptoms?

Many of the approximately 1,500 deaths in the U.S. each year due to anaphylaxis, a sudden, serious allergic reaction,could be prevented if more people knew the symptoms and the immediate treatment needed to survive.

Anaphylaxis is a rapid-onset, whole-body, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. The affected person may experience cardiovascular shock and/or serious respiratory compromise. It can happen to anyone at any time, but is more commonly experienced among people with risk factors.

The first line of treatment is early administration of epinephrine. Most fatalities from anaphylaxis occur outside the home, especially when treatment is delayed.

There are three major risk factors for fatal anaphylaxis:

Allergic reaction to food, stinging insects or medications

Presence or history of asthma symptoms

Delay in administration of epinephrine

Children and Anaphylaxis

Every child at risk should have an anaphylaxis action plan on file with all schools and caregivers.  The plan should list symptoms; state that immediate action can be life-saving; and outline what to do in order of importance. Having a strategy reduces anxieties associated with anaphylaxis, especially for parents who have children with allergies. Currently, 47 states protect students’ rights to carry and use auto-injectable epinephrine.

To determine if you or your child are at risk for anaphylaxis, it is best to see your doctor or allergist. Having a plan of action can save your life.

The Anaphylaxis Community
Experts (ACE) Program

The national Anaphylaxis Community Experts (ACE) educational program aims to increase awareness of anaphylaxis by presenting to schools, hospital grand rounds, PTA meetings, medical offices, scouting organizations, EMS, fire and police departments, and more. The ACE program will be presented in 150 communities by teams of local allergists and laypersons. ACE program objectives are to:

• Help patients, families and healthcare professionals identify who is at risk, and recognize signs and symptoms of life-threatening allergic reactions.

• Recommend that auto-injectable epinephrine, the first line of treatment, be administered immediately once the symptoms have been identified, followed by emergency medical attention at the nearest hospital.

• Develop prevention models that:

– Promote identification and avoidance of allergens.

– Encourage patients with a history of anaphylaxis to consult with an allergist routinely.

– Provide an Anaphylaxis Action Plan to patients who are at risk of anaphylaxis.   

– Refer patients with a diagnosis of anaphylaxis to an allergist, support-organizations and educational programs.

For more information on the symptoms and treatment of anaphylaxis or to request an ACE awareness presentation for your group, visit aanma.org or acaai.org.

The ACE program is a partnership of Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), supported by Dey Pharma, LP.

MD (301) 805-6805 | VA (703) 288-3130